With the arrival of the festive period, most of us are not short of opportunities to relax, celebrate and have fun. This leaves many of us facing the dilemma of how to stay healthy, whilst still making the most of the holidays. A lack of sleep and the abundance of treats around certainly means that many of us face difficulties in maintaining our usual standard of health, having to later compensate by adopting fad diets and short-lived exercise regimes come New Year’s Day… However, this doesn’t have to be the case! There are several simple, small measures we can take to ensure that we maximise our chances of staying both healthy AND happy over the holidays. This may be your best Christmas yet….
For those who simply can’t resist the extra treat come December, the best way to truly enjoy this guilt-free is through moving more. With the festive period comes a whole range of fun activities we wouldn’t consider as much as at other times of the year. Whilst we don’t really associate winter as the season of getting into shape, there are plenty of ways to keep fit, whether that be on a festive winter walk, enjoying some Christmas Zumba or through a trip to the local ice rink. With such a range of ways to exercise, we’re bound to find something that we can enjoy over the holidays. Likewise, exercising releases endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body, consequently boosting our moods. This means that by moving more, we can have an even happier Christmas without having to worry too much about impending gym sessions in the New Year.
Dehydration’s greater discretion in winter, combined with more opportunities to drink alcohol over the ‘Season to be Merry’ mean that we are at increased risk of headaches, hangovers and general weakness, which would inevitably put a dampener on celebrations… However, we can easily remedy this by regularly drinking water. Yes, it may not be as appetising as a Bailey’s Hot Chocolate, but water is a gold mine for staying healthy. By providing our bodies with the fluids they need to combat threats of illness, our risk of getting sick reduces and water’s prevention of fluid retention means that weight gain is also less likely. So, by simply ensuring that we stay hydrated, we can spend more time having fun during the holidays as opposed to fighting disease!
Get your Zzzzzzs
With so many parties on the calendar throughout December, many of us won’t be taking the time to get our suggested 8 hours sleep. However, given the associated mood-boosting effects and health benefits, it is really worth trying to get the odd early night here and there. Indeed, sufficient sleep is strongly associated with having a better quality of life, with Raymonde Jean, MD, Director of Sleep Medicine at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Centre in New York City underlining how ‘If you sleep better, you can certainly live better’. Likewise, a good night’s sleep has been commonly associated with lowering the chance of depression and lessening stress levels, whilst enhancing immunity to illness, particularly during winter when we are greater risk of sickness. There is no need to decline invitations to celebrate, however: lack of sleep from partying can be remedied by going to bed earlier on quieter evenings or even the occasional nap. Plus, going home for the winter holidays is the perfect excuse for uni students to catch up on sleep, so make the most of it!
Even if we do relax our fitness regimes and eating habits over the holidays, to enjoy this guilt-free it is worth remembering that the average Brit only gains an average of one pound in weight during the entire festive period. This can be remedied in no time! Ultimately, to stay healthy whilst having fun, most experts say that moderation is key and recommend an 80:20 principle. So whilst it isn’t sensible to go overboard, it is Christmas after all and everybody deserves a treat at the end of a hard year’s work. So, go ahead, enjoy that Christmas Pudding- you’ve earned it!